Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Campari Presents the James Beard Awards Chef’s Night Out 2012

Recently we attended Chef’s Night Out, a Campari-sponsored evening of tasty cocktails and tempting nibbles, which acts as a prelude before the final day of the James Beard Foundation Awards at which chefs and restaurants are rewarded for their excellence. Check out the slide show below, as well as a few Campari recipes that are perfect as the temperature starts to rise.

Bar chef Tad Carducci hit us up with some Plymouth Gin Negronis upon entering, and he shared with us a few tips when making Negronis with this one-of-a-kind slightly lighter gin: use a big ice cube for slow dilution, and bump up the proportion of gin to the amount of Campari and sweet vermouth (Negronis are typically 1:1:1) for a more balanced experience. As the ice slowly melted, we commented on how smooth this Negroni was, a little atypical for such a boldly flavored cocktail, but delicious.

Plymouth Gin Negroni
(adapted by Tad Carducci)

1 1/2 ounces Plymouth gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth
orange peel, as garnish

Stir in ice and strain into a glass with one large ice cube. (We’re sure Tad wouldn’t mind if you substituted two or three regular ice cubes if that is all that’s available :) Garnish with a swath of orange peel.

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We then moseyed down the corridor through the Chelsea Market, deciding which bites to pair with our Negroni. We stumbled upon some folks serving up Dehesa Cordobesa 100% acorn-fed Ibérica ham. It melted on our tongues like butter. You can actually taste the nuttiness of the acorns. Behind them, Dickson’s Farmstand Meats was serving up the best deviled ham you never thought you needed to have, along with some lardon spread and some of the savoriest red chili–braised beef, with a finishing topper of cilantro leaf that contrasted nicely with the spiciness of the braise.

While in the Campari Red Lounge, we saw one of our favorite bartenders, Damon Dyer, who runs the bar program at The Rum House, pouring some simple Campari and tonics for those who needed a quick jolt of bittersweet bliss. That encounter was followed by a chat with another one of our favorite people behind the stick, Death & Co.’s Joaquin Simo, always friendly and always informative. He was offering Negroni Sbagliatos, equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and sparkling wine (sbagliato means incorrect). What a delight. This should be the opening drink at your next cocktail party. Make sure to have some strong cheeses on hand to pair with this effervescent, bittersweet libation.

Negroni Sbagliato
(adapted by Joaquin Simo)

1 1/2 ounces Campari
1 1/2 ounces Cinzano sweet vermouth
1 1/2 ounces Mionetto prosecco

Stir Campari and sweet vermouth in ice. Strain into champagne flute. Top with prosecco.

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It was also a pleasure to see writers Bruce Watson and Laren Spirer, chatting it up with bartender Pamela Wiznitzer of the recently opened Bishops & Barons on East 14th Street. We all realized that we hadn’t yet experienced dessert, so we went in search for some sweetness to bring wider Campari-laced grins to our beaming faces.

Jane Danger, from Jane’s Sweet Buns, offered three bite-sized desserts that all had Campari as an ingredient. As we stood around her table, we debated with other pastry lovers what our favorite was: The shortbread cookie topped with Campari lemon rose buttercream? The strawberry sticky bun with rhubarb bitters? Or the bitter mai tai macaroon? Actually, they were all amazing.

Thanks to Bon Appétit and Hanna Lee Communications for letting us experience the versatility of Campari, and congratulations to all the 2012 James Beard Foundation Award Winners.

photos © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz

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